Georgina Gharsallah: 'Police failings' in missing mum case

Image source, Gharsallah family
Image caption,
Georgina Gharsallah has been missing since 7 March 2018

The family of a missing woman have been told by a police force it made a string of failings during its investigation.

Georgina Gharsallah was last seen in Worthing, West Sussex, in March 2018. A murder inquiry began in August 2019.

Sussex Police told the family a review found several faults in the way it handled the disappearance of the 30-year-old, who has never been found.

Her mother Andrea called for a fresh inquiry, adding: "We put our trust in Sussex Police, but they failed us."

Sussex Police said it acknowledged it was a "distressing time for Georgina's family," adding that chief constable Jo Shiner would meet with them to discuss the case in October.

Key CCTV footage was not reviewed for more than a year, while nine "potentially" significant sections of footage were lost, the family said.

Other issues included a failure to place the mother-of-two on an Interpol watchlist for more than 18 months, the family said.

Image source, Sussex Police
Image caption,
The last sighting of Georgina Gharsallah on the day she vanished was at a mobile phone shop

Sussex Police said the review found that while "initial enquiries were proportionate," there were "significant missed opportunities" in the way CCTV evidence was handled, which had resulted in some footage being "lost to the investigation".

It was "impossible to say, with any certainty, whether or not this would have made a tangible difference to the progress of the investigation," it added.

The force received 27 recommendations from the review, but said earlier claims that number of failings had been identified were incorrect.

'No racial bias'

Andrea Gharsallah said the family had been left with "overwhelming feelings of grief and distress", adding: "We are appalled and dismayed."

She said "police have clearly failed to take my daughter's case seriously", adding: "The question is why?"

"How can the police lose vital pieces of information?" she added.

Sussex Police said it rejected "any suggestion of racial bias in this case".

The family said they were told the investigation had hit a "dead end", until they passed a new lead to police in recent weeks.

A bank account linked to a Playstation games console, which was in Ms Gharsallah's possession on the day she disappeared, made a debit payment within the past three weeks, the family said.

The family has again been forced to become the "lead investigators" in the case, "which is a role no mother or sister should be placed or want", Mrs Gharsallah said.

An investigation by Sussex Police's major crimes unit continues.

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